Saturday, May 31, 1997

Priceless Game (5/31/1997)

Players: Allan, Joshua, Mike, Scott

Three games of Priceless; three winners; and the gaming gods smiled on Scott, dealing out two cards and a coin and facilitating a trade (with Mike) for another of each. Mike was stuck with antiques (expensive at game's beginning), Joshua and Allan with nothing connected, in fact, Allan passed his first turn to better his hand. A lot of trading in this game, and to the betterment of most players. Scott vaulted to an early lead, with Mike a bit behind and the rest of the riff-raff on the fringe, but around mid-game, Joshua caught Scott in points, and Allan started stringing together a collection of toys and cars. Mike rounded out his antique collection, but had to split his team and built in pewter next, whereas Joshua invested in timepieces and musical instruments (with a possible connection to artwork). Scott's luck extended to jewlery, but when he and Mike bid against each other on diamonds, it was clear nothing was going to come easily for the rest of the game. Opposition on gold coins cost Scott too, and Allan looked formidable with a three-category chain and checks galore. When Allan went for 1890s toys to end the game (last frame), he scooped up mega-points (somewhere in the 40 neighborhood -- nice neighborhood, I've always thought), and that put him over the top for the game. Final tally was something like Allan $1.3million, Scott 1.2, Mike 1.05, and Joshua 850,000. Thus was broken the symmetry that the gaming gods had devised for the night, and I'm sure Allan will suffer great losses in the future for shunning their obvious wishes. BTW, good game, Al.

A word from our winner Allan

"This win had more than a little luck involved. A last minute blackmail of Scott had him giving me the fourth toy (for my final frame) to keep me out of bidding for Chineese coins. He would probably have won if he could have just outbid me or stuck me with the bogus coin. But to the tip: I took my first turn as a pass to avoid having to spend 2 checks to get my game started and get my check value up. The 2 cards I pulled allowed me to trade for what I needed to make a chain in a non-contested part of the board. Sacrifice whatever you have to to save checks. If you can build slower, but still make good purchases without spending checks, do so. My extra checks. Sacrifice whatever you have to to save checks. If you can build slower, but still make good purchases without spending checks, do so. My extra checks really paid off in the end."

Scott's words to live by:
- Next up, Combscon 1997!!!

Settlers of Catan Game (5/31/1997)

Players: Allan, Joshua, Mike, Scott

You never saw the number 5 so many times in a two-dice Settlers game -- Mike and Allan being the main beneficiaries of that odd twist of luck. Allan drew four special cards before anyone built anything, and when the building began, Mike went for the longest road. Joshua and Scott waited and waited for the dice to come up anything but 5 (seemed like eternity), but when it finally began happening, most roadways were clogged and the best areas were developed. Joshua went for cities, with Scott desperately trying for longest road and a 3-fer port; meanwhile, Allan and Mike had two cities each and enough sheep to keep them company for many a winter, and when it became obvious the battle lay there, Joshua and Scott tried to help Allan (after all, Mike won Speed Circuit). However, when that strategy failed to help Allan, the two leaders were left pretty much on their own. Mike went after the largest army, got another settlement (which hindered Allan's progress) and appeared to be on the way. But Allan just had too many cards, and when he finally built the settlement he was after, he revealed 3 victory points in his hand and that was game. Mike had 8 or 9 points, Joshua 6, and Scott a paltry 4. Says here that Allan is now a legitimate threat in dice rolling games -- won one a few weeks back, too. Will the Earth ever be safe again?

A word from our winner Allan

"The moon was full, Jupiter aligned with Venus, the tide was high and I was scorched, some thought from the fires of hell when I made my deal with the devil: 2 wins in one night? I could get struck by lightning any minute now! "I'd like to revise my previous tip of looking for settlements that produce groups of commodities that work together (like wood and brick) to specificly any combination of your first two settlements that produce ore, grain and sheep. I was lucky that my cards drawn were heavy on the VP type of cards, but I still see the cards as the fastest way to get victory points. There's the often unclaimed largest army bonus in there plus the knights to move the thief for you. I got about the same number of resources that everyone else did, but while they were building roads I was hording advancement cards. I think I pulled 7 or 8 before I won."

Speed Circuit Game #2 (5/31/1997)

Players: Allan, Joshua, Mike, Scott

Second game of Speed Circuit, same track, different cars. Mike actually stalled at the start, and once again, Scott blazed out to an early lead, and burned much of his wear in the first lap, while Joshua coasted behind him, "slipping" and braking to avoid the wear that was killing Scott. Desperate to make up ground, Allan tried an insane turn and crashed. Mike followed him, and the race was all but over, with Joshua's car coasting in comfort and Scott's spitting bolts all the way. Eventually, Scott crashed on the same turn Allan and Mike hit, and Joshua literally coasted to victory (in fact, we didn't even make him before declaring him victor -- actually, that means he finished neither race, what a wimp).

Happy to report that Joshua did not submit a winner's tip :P

Speed Circuit Game #1 (5/31/1997)

Players: Allan, Joshua, Mike, Scott

We played one of the shorter courses in Speed Circuit, and there was instant jealousy over each other's cars (something's always greener on the other side). Scott's good start speed and 180mph top speed bought him an early lead, which he stretched out over Mike and Joshua. Allan balked at the start and that cost him dearly as the other cars became distant specks. Scott roared around half the track, but used most all his wear during that time, and when he tried to save some, he blew it on one of the tables and limped toward lap two. Mike caught him near the start/finish line, and with judicious "slips," Scott remained a solid-second. Joshua and Allan battled until Joshua fell behind and Allan set his sights on the lead pack. I believe Mike played it safe, knowing Scott was seriously handicapped and the others were unlikely to catch up, and he still won by a full turn,. Allan just missed a chance to move up to second, and Joshua never finished (to my recollection).

Sorry, Mike did not submit a winner's tip

Saturday, May 3, 1997

Dune Game (5/3/1997)

Players: Anne (Harkonnen), Joshua (Bene Gesserit), Mike C. (Atreides), Scott (Guild), Vishal (Fremen)

In Spice Harvest, The Fremen bid 9 spice to become Harvest Manager and proceeded uneventfully through an eight-spice gathering. Unfortunately, he spent all his spice on one Access card, and consequently, the job passed to Atreides, who pocketed an extra three spice (out of another small harvest) when the BG and Guild disagreed with his distribution formula. For some strange reason, Harkonnen got the majority of the spice as we moved to the surface of Dune, and was off and running with a lot of cards that the BG claimed put her in the lead. No harvest in turn three when Atreides bought an extra card and got wormed, and when the job passed back to The Fremen, it fell to Atreides again because the poor Fremen couldn't scrape together the necessary spice to keep the job, and fell further when Atreides purposely spent all their cash to pass it to Harkonnen. Harkie then made out by announcing lower than actual and paying The Fremen handsomely and paying Atreides just enough to get their vote. (Ummm... that is they paid one spice for a "yes" vote -- which upset the BG to no end. Not suprising, then that the BG got hosed in shares next round, too.) Final round, Harkonnen announced ten spice harvested, and distributed only nine, which left the door open for a successful challenge -- with all four votes going "thumbs down." Twice in this game, someone got skunked for a single spice. Greed, greed, greed. Tsk tsk.

Well, on to the game. After trading Access cards, Harkonnen got Arrakeen, The Guild got Carthag (trading most of the Access cards for spice because the half-rate shipment made it worthwhile), The Fremen got spice only (and precious little of that), Atreides got Habbanya, and The Bene Gesserit took Tuek's Sietch. Auctions on Treachery cards were spirited because people didn't mind paying a lot for them -- as long as it went to the bank and not The Emporer. Based on knowledge of Access cards, The BG claimed that Harkonnen was the player to beat, and then twice sent a single troop into Atreides' zones to fight with a strength of 6 (guaranteed survival of the leader) and soak off some green counters. The Fremen appeared just above the Great Flat (for spice) and moved half their troops into Sietch Tabr, and seeing this, The Guild reinforced Carthag and Atreides moved into the Imperial Basin, waiting for scraps. Harkonnen shipped down a few more to Arrakeen, and The BG went along for the ride.

Next round found The Fremen in Carthag (in force), and one of the BG/Atreides skirmishes broiling in Habbanya. The Guild defeated The Fremen but was left with only three troops, as the storm moved past Tuek's and toward the dreaded Shield Wall. The Bene Gesserit then shipped to a spice blow near Habbanya, and Atreides abandonded the city for that spice (and blew away the BG). The Fremen hoard returned from the tanks to park right outside Carthag, and a "conservative" Guild took and empty Habbanya with 6 (of their best) men. Three players took Choam Charity (including the first time we've ever seen The Guild do so), and ten spice blew in right next to Tuek's Sietch. The Bene Gesserit swarmed all over it, and Atreides called a summit with The Fremen and Guild leaders. Emerging from a smoke-filled foyer, The Guild cross-planet shipped from Habbanya to Tuek's, and agreed not to fight The Fremen in Carthag (in return for the spice that allowed that shipment).

The BG guessed right ("Do not play a projectile weapon") and saved their leader but still lost the fight. The Guild threw the battle in Carthag, and The Fremen looked mighty powerful, with two cities and a smallish Harkonnen force in Arrakeen. The Storm locked up Sietch Tabr, and The Fremen split the Cathag force to invade Arrakeen. The BG and Guild needed a round to regroup before mounting another offensive, and most players thought Harkonnen would destroy The Fremen, what with six cards and all, so Atreides ignored the possible attack in Carthag and awaited the outcome. Atreides helped Harkonnen (to prolong the game) while The BG aided The Fremen (to get it over with), and once Atreides saw those magical 6 cards, he wished he'd taken on the Fremen, too. No weapons meant little chance for victory, and with the BG using a Truthtrance to reveal some of Harkonnen's battle plan, Vishal had little trouble winning the city and claiming victory his first Dune game. Cleaned our clocks again, giving him a 50% winning percentage in our group.

A word from our winner, Vishal

"I was pretty surprised to win the game with one battle. I think I had an advantage in playing The Fremen, as I could put my troops on the board without any cost. First I sent my troops to Sietch Tabr and then to Carthag. I think other players should have taken this move very seriously. Now to win the game I needed one more city, so my next goal was Arrakeen which was held by Harkonnen. I won the battle and eventually the game by using my best leader and a poison weapon. So the bottom line is: Any time a player has two cities assume that his next move will be for the game and do your best to block him."

Scott's words to live by:
- Read the web page: Joshua told us last time that a weakly held city should be taken away, but none of us ever went after Sietch Tabr
- Don't assume that new players are less of a threat than experienced ones
- Be persistent about getting the winner's tip if you want a timely web page
- Keep this up, Vishal, and we'll send Deep Blue after you

Robo Rally Game (5/3/1997)

Players: Anne, Joshua, Mike, Scott, Vishal

Decided to play Robo Rally while waiting to see if our mystery guest showed, and it worked out perfectly. Allan painted the 'bots and not only do they look great, you can actually tell which direction your 'bot is facing -- excellent! Phase one saw Josh kill his robot on the conveyor of doom and a serious crusher threat to Mike's robot, while Scott and Anne's 'bots bounced around in the wall maze, both real and both sustaining real damage. All of this tempered Vishal's wish that his virtual robot get real soon. Joshua went for the conveyor again (a move he'd soon regret), and Mike forged into the lead, dodging crushers like laundry duty. Vishal's robot no sooner became real than it conveyored itself off the board. When Anne faltered at the crusher conveyer belt, Mike seemed assured of victory and already had his winner's tip written: "What's the big deal. You program your robot and run it. Simple." (Hope those words taste good ;-> ) Luck of the non-Irish kicked him when he was three squares away from victory and was dealt seven, count 'em seven, turn cards. This allowed Joshua and Scott to move in, gumming up the works on the main conveyor and both dealing and receiving some serious damage. Joshua got off the conveyor by diving into a pit (death number three always sucks), and Mike and Scott raced for the flag.

Scott's robot passed over the flag and pushed Mike's into a wall, and the two 'bots traded damage for a few phases. Mike locked two of Scott's registers, and then had one of his own locked, after which he announced a shutdown following the next turn. Mike's 'bot passed over the flag and shut down precariously at board's edge, while his opponent (the "damn the torpedoes" robot) spun and sputtered to the flag just before bumping Mike's 'bot off the board. What happened to Anne and Vishal's robots is a mystery. Anne was still going at game's end, but Vishal was restarting for the third time, and of course, parts of Joshua's machine were strewn all over the board. We'd originally set up two flags for a one-hour game. Someone remarked, "We always underestimate this game," to which Mike replied, "No. We always overestimate ourselves."

A word from our winner Scott

"In the past, I've believed you should shut down rather than dying and coming back. However, tonight's game was a sprint, so I didn't think any shut down was advised -- just roll on and hope for the best. Three pieces of advice: think about which way you want to go before the timer begins; always turn your cards so their all facing up while the dealer is finishing the deal; first thing once you turn your cards over? separate the turns from the move. A swivel chair doesn't hurt either."